HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Silver Linings Playbook
HTS Overall Score:87
Well, the last of the academy award winning films finally trickles in. Shot on a shoestring budget and released in a limited run theatrical showing (only to do so well that they released it AGAIN in the theaters for a broader showing) has finally chugged into our home theaters at last. A, more or less, indie film shot for only a paltry $21 million, “Silver Linings Playbook” shocked everyone by making back a worldwide gross of 232+ million dollars. A strange film, based upon a very series subject, it has been given a rounding ovation by critics and viewers alike for blending drama, comedy and romance in a way that defies the over saturated and clichéd rom-com/dramedy market. A film that defied not only financial odds, but gave us some of the most understated performances of the year.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) is just coming out of an 8 month stay at a mental hospital. It seems that he’s been struggling with Bi-polar disorder for most of his life and managed to stay beneath the diagnosis radar. Coming home to meet his wife he finds her cheating on him with another co-worker in his own shower. Snappy, he beats the co-worker senseless and pushes himself over the edge of sanity. After 8 months of rehabilitation he comes out trying to reinvent himself. Still obsessed with his ex-wife Nikki, Pat tries to cope with his new live and the constant desire to get back to the life he once knew. The unfortunate thing is that he is now fully Bi-Polar and not taking his meds. By chance he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow who also has been dealing with mental illness due to the loss of her husband, a police officer who was killed by accident. The two of them have something in common. Not only are they both struggling with the recovery of their shattered lives, but Tiffany has access to Nikki. Continuing on his obsession with Nikki, Pat begs her to send a letter to Nikki so that he can bypass the restraining order against him. Tiffany agrees, on one condition, that Pat be her dance partner in a competition that means the world to Tiffany. Pat seems to have no choice, Dance with Tiffany, or lose access to the life that he so desperately wants back.
As the story unfolds we see that there are a myriad of different things at work here. Pat comes from a very dysfunctional family to begin with. His father, Pat Sr. (Robert Deniro), is a clinically OCD man who pushes his son away from him and barely is able to properly communicate and his mother is stuck in the middle, a gambling OCD husband on one end, and a shattered son on the other end. Tiffany is every bit as shattered and is living with a family who loves, but can’t understand her. Her own sister is a controlling and domineering person who tries to draw Tiffany into the world of “normalcy” without even trying to understand what he sister is going through. Pat Jr. is in no way healthy at the beginning of this movie, he’s struggling with not taking his medication and literally tearing himself apart at the seams with agony. As much pain as he’s suffered, he’s still looking for his plan, his playbook for life so to speak so that he can get to that silver lining amidst all the suffering he’s been through.
There’s several main flaws that the film has going against it. There’s a little bit of the cliché and over simplification of circumstances that happens, but I can deal with that. In a Hollywood dramedy you have to expect a little over simplification or the movie will take 9 hours. Also some of the characters were just a bit toooooo dysfunctional to wrap up in a 2 hour movie, I think Pat’s father’s issues with gambling and anger could have been trimmed back to make it a bit more believable. HOWEVER, the big thing that made this movie rise from just good to GREAT, was the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I mean this couple just oooooooooooooooozed chemistry from every pore. There was not a single scene that they were in together than I was not awestruck by just how well they worked together. You’ve heard that a good cast can make up for a lousy script, well here a FANTASTIC cast literally shot this rather good script into the hearts of minds of people all over the world. For the first time in years I saw Robert Deniro actually put his acting skills to good use instead of just sleepwalking his way through a mediocre script. Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for her portrayal of Tiffany, but I think that Bradley Cooper was EVERY bit as good as Jennifer in the film. Playing off of each other like a well-oiled machine they shined in every scene.
I personally have been excited to see this movie ever since I heard about the concept. I have family and friends who have/do struggle with Bi-Polar disorder. Bi-Polar is a disease that is very difficult to pinpoint and can range from very mild to very very severe. It’s a mental disease that can eat away at a person, ostracize them from people and frustrate them to the very core of their being in an effort to control their emotional core. I was slightly nervous that they would romanticize the issue and just turn it into another happy, unrealistic comedy. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see the pros and cons of their struggle laid on the table in all its raw and ugly glory. The film doesn’t shy away from showing the pain and suffering along with the major issues that once would have whilst dealing with their road to mental health. Pat jr. and Tiffany’s relationship was no bed of roses, each one had to and STILL has to deal with their emotional instability for the rest of their life. What made this a truly great adaptation was instead the focus on finding the good in everything, grasping onto what stability they can have and revel in the little wins, the big wins and even the losses on their journey.
Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11652[/img]“Silver Linings Playbook” pops out onto the screen with a fantastic 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer. Again, another drama/comedy filmed in the scope aspect ratio. Rather surprising, but still works extremely well. The film has yellowish hue given to it from the get go, but colors are rich and lush amidst the Philadelphia suburbs. Green lawns are bright and vibrant and the rich blues and whites and yellows amidst the houses are well done. Skin tones are smooth and accurate as well. Blacks are extremely well resolved and even the darkest scenes have a fantastic amount of detail to see. Facial detail is just about flawless. Every pore and crease in Robert DeNiro’s craggy face is perfectly replicated and the individual fibers and hairs on Jennifer Lawrence’s outfit are displayed with deadly accuracy. My only complaints was a tiny bit of artifacting in a single dark scene (the scene where Pat walks Tiffany home at night, there’s a teensy bit of macroblocking around their legs in the dark), and the occasional softly shot image. Overall a beautiful transfer for a fantastic movie.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11649[/img]Just as good as the video, Starz/Anchor Bay gives us a fantastic 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless audio track. Being that this is a dialogue driven movie it is expected that most of the sounds are coming from the front soundstage. Dialogue is crisp and clean, locked firmly in the center channel with some nice panning effects across the front sound stage (a knock at the front door jolted me out of my chair thinking my wife was telling me to turn the volume down). For a dialogue driven movie there was actually some nice surround usage. Footsteps on the floor, the sound of a car door opening or just the rich and beautiful score from Danny Elfman, all shining through with an enveloping sound stage. Dynamic range was smooth and the score and was well balanced with the dialogue, no need to adjust the volume once. There wasn't a wild amount of LFE in the film, but what LFE WAS there, was used well. Adding a rich throaty feel to the musical numbers it punctuated the film with some very tight and clean bass that didn't seem out of place, nor missing from the film in any way. A BEAUTIFUL track that is a tribute to the sound designers.
• "Silver Linings Playbook": The Film that Became a Movement
• Q&A Highlights
• Dance Rehearsal
• Deleted Scenes
• Learn to Dance Like Pat and Tiffany
• Going Steadicam with Bradley Cooper
“Silver Linings Playbook” is a raw look at the pitfalls and joys of a family of people struggling with mental illness. Whether that be the people who have to deal with the ill people, or the ill people dealing with everyday occurrences in life that you or I take for granted. A sweet and lovely tale, it is a definite contender for the academy awards and one of the best rom-com’s that I’m seen a VERY long time. Mix in an absolutely fantastic set of audio/visual scores and some fairly impressive extras and this is a must own. Without a doubt a movie I can unabashedly give both thumbs up to and look forward to seeing multiple times.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Robert Deniro
Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 122 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Buy Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It!
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